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AwardsJan 2, 2024

'Inspirational' physiotherapist Fiona Lindop is rewarded with MBE for her work in Parkinson's field

Fiona Lindop, a specialist physiotherapist with University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation, was awarded an MBE for services to physiotherapy in the 2024 New Year's Honours list.

Now in her fourth decade at the trust, Fiona has had a ‘huge impact’ on improving the care and treatment offered to patients, an article on its website stated.

It lauded the ‘pivotal role’ she played in the trust being named as a Parkinson's Foundation Centre of Excellence on two occasions – becoming one of only two centres in the UK to gain this recognition.

Fiona’s ambition to become a physiotherapist flourished from the age of 11 onwards, and she went on to qualify at the School of Physiotherapy in Aberdeen. Her passion for the profession has ‘never wavered’ since, she said.

‘When I opened the envelope [announcing her award], which looked a lot different from the others I've received, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

‘I just feel so honoured and surprised – but I couldn't have done it without all the fantastic people I work with and all of my fantastic patients. It's all about teamwork.’

Photo Credit: Parkinson's UK
Fiona said: 'I always say that physiotherapy is my calling, but Parkinson's chose me.'

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'Dream job'

Fiona said the local Parkinson’s service had been created ‘from nothing’. ‘It evolved from what was originally a day hospital for the elderly and it has grown incredibly and helped so many people since.

'I have a dream job because I work with a fantastic multidisciplinary team of professionals, all from a variety of disciplines so that we are able to offer patients a holistic care package.

‘No two people with Parkinson's disease are the same. Some will have symptoms that are best managed by a physiotherapist, while others will need to be seen by an occupational therapist, speech therapist, doctor or nurse, so it's all about working together seamlessly to ensure the patient at the centre of it gets the best care for them.'

The consultant I was working with suggested we see all of our Parkinson's patients on the same day ... he asked me to come up with an outcome measure on one page, which later became known as the Lindop Parkinson's Assessment Scale [Fiona Lindop]

Lindop Parkinson's Assessment Scale

Fiona's career has left a legacy not just at UHDB, but nationally, the trust said. An assessment framework, which is used frequently used across the NHS to assess the mobility of people with Parkinson's disease, was named after her.

Fiona explained: ‘During my time as an elderly care physio, the consultant I was working with suggested we see all of our Parkinson's patients on the same day. Back then, we didn’t have that many and we saw them once a month. He asked me to come up with an outcome measure on one page, which later became known as the Lindop Parkinson's Assessment Scale, which is now regularly used by physiotherapists all over the country. ‘

Fiona, who is currently mentoring a researcher in Germany, added: ‘I am really grateful for the career I have had and to have it recognised with an MBE is just the icing on the cake.’

Parkinson's UK role 

Fiona also acts as the clinical lead for therapy with the Parkinson’s Excellence Network, is a ‘huge advocate’ for physical activity for people with Parkinson’s and is an active member of network’s Exercise Hub.

Speaking on Parkinson’s UK’s website, she said: ‘I always say that physiotherapy is my calling, but Parkinson’s chose me. The biggest reward is equipping people with the practical solutions that will allow them to manage their condition and live better with Parkinson’s. That’s why I do it. 

‘I've learnt so much from the colleagues I've worked with and the patients I've seen over the years. I couldn't have done it without them, which is why through the work I do with the Parkinson's Excellence Network, I act as an ambassador for therapists. Making sure that everyone has access to the information, skills and knowledge to provide the level of care that people with Parkinson's deserve.'

Fiona’s impact and expertise reaches beyond the midlands. In 2017, she was the physiotherapy representative on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Parkinson’s Guidelines and its Quality Standards for Parkinson’s. 

The following year, she became the first clinical lead for therapy on the Parkinson’s Excellence Network’s Clinical Leadership Team, which the charity said reflected the importance of multidisciplinary care for people with Parkinson’s.

Fiona is among the top specialist Parkinson’s physiotherapists in the UK and we’re delighted to see her receive this richly deserved recognition. She has inspired and trained a generation of physiotherapists [Rowan Wathes, Parkinson's UK]

'Truly humbling' contribution

Rowan Wathes, the charity’s associate director of policy and health strategy, said: ‘Fiona is among the top specialist Parkinson’s physiotherapists in the UK and we’re delighted to see her receive this richly deserved recognition. She has inspired and trained a generation of physiotherapists to specialise in the condition and deliver high quality services.'

Dr Wathes added: ‘Fiona has been instrumental in driving our national Integrated multidisciplinary care programme and our induction programme for Parkinson’s specialist therapists. She is a member of our UK Parkinson’s Audit steering group and a key member of our Exercise Hub. Her compassionate approach and ability to make change happen for the benefit of the Parkinson’s community all across the UK is truly humbling.’

Author: Ian A McMillan
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